David Levithan is currently one of the greatest YA authors today. Constantly pushing inventive writing and unique storytelling devices, all aimed at capturing the attention of teenagers and inspiring a new generation of readers and writers. What’s more, he does a powerful job of portraying LGBT characters in these novels as well. And now, 10 years after his breakthrough novel Boy Meets Boy, Levithan captures gay culture in 2013 in Two Boys Kissing.
Told from the perspective of the Gays of the Past, who speak in “we” pronoun form, we follow a weekend in the lives of various gay teenagers as two ex-boyfriends/best friends try to break the record for the world’s longest kiss. Levithan gives us a glimpse at nearly every type of teen in love from the newly infatuated couple to the depressed, suicidal loner. It’s a mosaic of characters who accurately portray what it is like to be a gay teen in America today.
Two Boys Kissing (inspired by a Walt Whitman poem) feels too contrived in the beginning: the “we” voice is convoluted and some of the more poignant storylines feel emotionally manipulative. But once you become fully immersed in the novel you’ll be unable to stop reading. You soon forgive the novel its contrivances for its overall message, a hopeful and inspiring one for gay teens. And you’ll be reminded just how wonderful Levithan’s writing truly is.